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Herbs Research Papers

Herbal Medicine Today: Clinical and Research Issues

Fabio Firenzuoli and Luigi Gori

Center of Natural Medicine, S.Giuseppe Hospital, Empoli, Italy

For reprints and all correspondence: Fabio Firenzuoli, MD, Center of Natural Medicine, Director S. Giuseppe Hospital, Via Paladini 40 – 50053 Empoli, Italy. Tel: +39-0571-702601; Fax: +39-0571-702639; E-mail: ti.anacsot.11lsu@ilouznerif.f

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Copyright © 2007 The Author(s).

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Herbal medicine is the use of medicinal plants for prevention and treatment of diseases: it ranges from traditional and popular medicines of every country to the use of standardized and tritated herbal extracts. Generally cultural rootedness enduring and widespread use in a Traditional Medical System may indicate safety, but not efficacy of treatments, especially in herbal medicine where tradition is almost completely based on remedies containing active principles at very low and ultra low concentrations, or relying on magical-energetic principles.

In the age of globalization and of the so-called ‘plate world’, assessing the ‘transferability’ of treatments between different cultures is not a relevant goal for clinical research, while are the assessment of efficacy and safety that should be based on the regular patterns of mainstream clinical medicine.

The other black box of herbal-based treatments is the lack of definite and complete information about the composition of extracts. Herbal derived remedies need a powerful and deep assessment of their pharmacological qualities and safety that actually can be realized by new biologic technologies like pharmacogenomic, metabolomic and microarray methology. Because of the large and growing use of natural derived substances in all over the world, it is not wise to rely also on the tradition or supposed millenarian beliefs; explanatory and pragmatic studies are useful and should be considered complementary in the acquisition of reliable data both for health caregiver and patients.

Keywords: evidence based medicince, explanatory trials, herbal medicine, mainstream medicine, phytotherapy, pragmatic trials, traditional medical system, traditional medicine

Herbs are natural products and their chemical composition varies depending on several factors and therefore varying from people to people, from energetic decoctions to the use of herbal extracts following Western methodologies of mainstream medicine. Traditional medicines has a very long history: it is the sum total of the practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences of different cultures and times, often inexplicable, used in the maintenance of health, as like in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement and treatment of illnesses.

In every country traditional medicines find foundation in magical or religious beliefs, or popular experience and the World Health Organization is engaged to establish definitive guidelines for methodology of clinical research and the appraisal of effectiveness of traditional medicine

European Traditional Herbalism

For centuries traditional medical systems (TMS) were the primary medical system in the countries of origin, and now nevertheless the present dominance of the Western scientific medical model, citizens and health-caregivers are starting to rely and trust TMS substituting conventional scientifically proved therapies with unconventional ones. Generally cultural rootedness enduring and widespread use of TMS may indicate safety, but not the efficacy of the treatments especially in herbal medicines where tradition is almost completely based on remedies containing active principles at very low and ultra low concentrations, or relying on magical-energetic properties of sun, moon, etc.

In European traditional herbalism categories similar to Asiatic medicines, referring to ‘humoral-energetic doctrines’ that has qualities (like heat, cold, dry, humid), and elements (fire, air, water, earth, etc.) are used. European popular medicine still counsel the so-called depurative plants for treatment of dermatological illnesses, like psoriasis or eczemas, like it were due to intoxications, as well as diuretic plants for arthritis, or a decoction of Stachys (called ‘herb of fear’) used as bath to wash out fears, or hay baths as treatment of cancer.

A discussion on methodologies for research and evaluation of traditional medicine should be divided in two parts: herbal medicines and traditional procedure-based therapies.

Herbal medicine has become a popular form of healthcare; even though several differences exist between herbal and conventional pharmacological treatments, herbal medicine needs to be tested for efficacy using conventional trial methodology and several specific herbal extracts have been demonstrated to be efficacious for specific conditions. Nevertheless the public is often misleded to believe that all natural treatments are inherently safe, herbal medicines do carry risks, so research in this area must be intensified. The main question that has not been often answered satisfactorily deal with the triad absorption/metabolism/efficacy of herbs and their extracts and is actually an important unsolved problem in judging their many alleged health effects (1).

Mind–body medicine can be considered as a complementary or an alternative mode to traditional Western medicine, and a variety of other modes of interventions that are presently used in a CAM paradigm may act in large part via the mind–body connection (2); and in this sense trusting in the traditional principles of a medicine that is deeply rooted in a culture can represent a type of mind-body connection having a real pharmacological activity through a placebo like effect. So a successful treatment is often the consequence of both types of treatments acting synergistically, nevertheless efficacy assessment of traditional medicines cannot be different from that of conventional medicine.

Long-term use of medicinal herbs enables a process of selection but limited and only partial, of short and medium-term safe remedies, that however does not match with modern issues relatives to the interferences with synthetic drugs. Treatment selection is often limited because of the multiple meaning of efficacy in relation to pathology and diseases in different cultures. The transfer of a medical concept to a new country may be really misleading and lead to deep modifications of its medical-therapeutic and cultural essence, especially if a remedy is part of a TMS, and modifications follow adaptation to local conditions and cultural habits. These modifications may deeply vary in extension, but probably years or just moths after migration a TMS can have absorbed cultural influences form the host country (3).

Table 1.

Traditional vs. Scientific knowledge

Efficacy and Effectiveness of a Traditional Herbal Remedy

To evaluate the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of a traditional herbal remedy requires answers to some basic questions:

  1. Which treatment should be studied?

  2. Can it be studied following the patterns of modern science protocols?

  3. Is it scientifically correct to transfer a remedy directly in another country?

  4. Does already exist a conventional treatment safe and effective?

  5. Is ethically correct to study that type of remedy?

Several factors are important in determining the outcome of any traditional treatment, both in experimental and clinical settings including forma mentis, beliefs, knowledge and practical abilities of the provider, as well as the positive or negative prejudices of the patient with respect to the provider of the therapy, cultural differences in the acceptability of the treatment and adherence to it, the patient–doctor encounter, and differences in access to other treatments (4). In the age of globalization and of the so-called ‘plate world’, assessing the ‘transferability’ of treatments in herbal medicines is not a relevant goal for clinical research, while efficacy and safety should be based on the normal patterns of mainstream clinical medicine. The CONSORT statement for trials of herbal medicines (5) can be a very important paradigm to follow; and in fact it elaborated 9 of the 22 CONSORT checklist items to enhance their relevance to trials of herbal interventions, including minor recommendations for eight items. Besides, Nahin and Straus from the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) proposed a pragmatic schema for allocation of resources in the USA. The authors recommend five criteria: quantity and quality of available preliminary data to help determine the most appropriate type of research; extent of use by the public; public health importance of the disease being treated; feasibility of conducting the research; cost of the research (6).

Table 2.

European medicinal plants from traditional uses to scientific knowledge

It is very important to keep in mind the differences between explanatory and pragmatic studies, and the concepts of efficacy and effectiveness (7); efficacy is the benefit a treatment produces under ideal conditions, often using carefully defined subjects, while effectiveness defines the benefit the treatment produces in routine clinical practice (8). Explanatory trials evaluate the efficacy of a treatment under controlled conditions that optimize isolation of the treatment effect through design features, such as a control or placebo, randomization, standardized protocols, homogeneous samples, blindness; these type of studies often represent the treatment of a particular patient, that is not the usual patient that enter a medical office. Pragmatic studies do not provide conclusive information on the specificity of the treatment effect but they have some interesting characteristics.

Pragmatic studies in Traditional Medicine

Pragmatic trials (PT) are designed to find out about how effective a treatment actually is in everyday practice; while explanatory trials are designed to find out whether a treatment has any efficacy, almost always compared with placebo under ideal conditions. PT answers questions about the overall effectiveness of an intervention, and cannot study the contributions of its different components. The participant to these studies will need to be representative of the wider population because results need to be generalized; so wide criteria of inclusion are needed, so that patients having more medical diseases or taking different medications are included. It would be more satisfactory and sensible to choose conditions where conventional treatment is often unsatisfactory like irritable bowel syndrome or panic crises. In PT it is not usually mandatory to use a placebo, while it is needed with both arms of the trial on normal practice, since the aim is to produce an evidence to facilitate a real practical choice. The treatment protocol is more complex because patients with wider criteria are included, so is necessary a larger sample of patients, and may need a handbook that defines parameters for treatment (9). The main advantage of PT is that they can deliver evidence of effectiveness directly in clinical practice (10). Nevertheless they have important methodological limits: most of all the lack of placebo and blindness, increased costs, the need of several therapists, more complexity and lack of clarification about the mechanism of action; but PT should be seen not as an alternative to explanatory studies, but as a mandatory complement that define and improve evidence primarily coming from explanatory trials, the only one that can reliably confirm efficacy.

The Chemical Constituents of Herbal Remedies

The other black box of herbal-based treatments is the lack of information about the composition of the remedy. Herbs are natural products and their chemical composition varies depending on several factors, such as botanical species, used chemotypes, the anatomical part of the plant used (seed, flower, root, leaf, and so on) and also storage, sun, humidity, type of ground, time of harvest, geographic area; and merchandized products containing on the label the same product varying in their content and concentrations of chemical constituents from batch to batch; and even the same manufacturer can merchandize in different periods products containing different substances although standardized to achieve a high pharmaceutical quality. This variability can result in significant differences in pharmacological activity: involving both pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic issues.

Adverse and side effects is another open problem, because in citizens still prevail the respect for everything that is natural tout court, more as a cultural-fashion-based choice than thinking that the patient is introducing in his/her body chemical substances of vegetal origin; not knowing that salicylic glucosides and lactonic sesquiterpenes of many Compositae are often responsible of allergic reactions; that some constituents of plants are cancerogenic like safrole, bergapten and pyrrolizidines alkaloids. Not of minor importance especially for the old patient using contemporary more synthetic drugs is the problem of drug interferences; some plants reduce or improve the bioavailability of some drugs due to induction or inhibition of cytochromes (St. John's Wort extracts, grapefruit juice, and so on). Moreover the use of herbal extracts during pregnancy or lactaction should undergo strict medical supervision because many herbs have not been studied neither in pregnant mice.

Advances in high-throughput experimentations have resulted in massive databases of genomic, proteomic and chemical data which in combination with efficient separation methods and powerful spectrometric methods for identification and structure elucidation can be used for identification of active compounds (11). A powerful and deep biological approach that integrates such large and diverse sources of information together actually needs to fully understand the pharmacological effects of natural products; and DNA microarrays may provide a suitable high-throughput platform for research and development of drugs from natural products (11). There are three main applications of DNA microarrays: in pharmacodynamics for discovery of new drugs; in pharmacogenomics for prediction of side-effects; in pharmacognosy for correct botanical identification and authentication of crude plant materials as part of standardization and quality control (11).


Herbal-derived remedies need a powerful and deep assessment of their pharmacological qualities and safety issues due to the large and growing use of natural-derived substances all over the world, which cannot rely only on the tradition or supposed millenarian beliefs; explanatory and pragmatic studies are useful and complementary in the acquisition of reliable data both for health caregiver and patients

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) was first conceived by Archibald Cochrane as a cultural and methodological approach to clinical practice to make decisions; based on clinical expertise and the most intimate knowledge of the individual patient's clinical situations, it de-emphasizes unsystematic clinical experience as ground for medical decision-making, and stresses the rigorous analysis of evidence from clinical research. An important problematic of EBM is the difficulty to be easily applied in everyday practice, in a ABC system, especially in the field of complementary medicine, and probably pragmatic studies can be a useful tool in reaching this major objective as part of the systematic process of knowledge.


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3. Barnes LL. The psychologizing of Chinese healing practices in the United States. Cult Med Psychiatry. 1998;22:413–43.[PubMed]

4. Cardini F, Wade C, Regalia AL, Gui S, Li W, Raschetti R, Kronenberg F. Clinical research in traditional medicine: priorities and methods. Compl Ther Med. 2006;14:282–87.[PubMed]

5. Gagnier JJ, Boon H, Rochon P, Moher D, Barnes J, Bombardier C. Reporting randomized, controlled trials of herbal interventions: an elaborated CONSORT statement. Ann Intern Med. 2006;144:364–67.[PubMed]

6. Nahin LR, Straus ES. Research into complementary and alternative medicine: problems and potential. Br Med J. 2001;322:161–4.[PMC free article][PubMed]

7. Wells KB. Treatment research at the crossroads: the scientific interface of clinical trials and effectiveness research. Am J Psychiatry. 1999;156:5–10.[PubMed]

8. Roland M, Torgeson DJ. What are pragmatic trials? BMJ. 1998;316:285.[PMC free article][PubMed]

9. Allen JJB, Schnyer RH, Hitt SK. The efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of major depression in women. Psychol Sci. 1998;9:397–401.

10. Medical Research Council (MRC) A framework for development and evaluation of RCTs for complex interventions to improve health. [(accessed on 23rd August 2007)]. April 2000. Available at: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Utilities/Documentrecord/index.htm?d=MRC003372htt.

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Articles from Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM are provided here courtesy of Hindawi Limited

Quan V. Vuong | Sathira Hirun | Paul D. Roach | Michael C. Bowyer | Phoebe A. Phillips | Christopher J. Scarlett

The leaves of Carica papaya are generally considered waste but their extracts have been linked with various health benefits. This study aimed to optimize extraction conditions and determine the effect of aqueous extraction on the yield of polyphenols from papaya leaves. The efficiency of water extraction was compared to the organic solvents acetone, ethanol and methanol. A method to prepare crude powder from the leaves was developed, with its composition and antioxidant properties also examined. We show that temperature, extraction time and water-to-leaf ratio had significant effects on the extracted polyphenol yield as well as the scavenging and total antioxidant activities. Optimal extraction conditions were 70 C for 20 min, with a water-to-leaf ratio of 100:7.5 mL/g. Higher levels of polyphenols were extracted using water in comparison to the organic solvents, while ethanol extraction provided the highest level of saponins. A simple and scalable method was developed to obtain approximately 190 g of powder from 1 kg of dried papaya leaves. The crude powder contained 6.3% polyphenols, and when compared to butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), Vitamins C and E and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) had lower scavenging and total antioxidant activity. However, as this method used water for extraction, it is considered safe and offers great potential for further purification and application in future studies. © 2013 Elsevier GmbH.

Angelo Siviero | Eugenia Gallo | Valentina Maggini | Luigi Gori | Alessandro Mugelli | Fabio Firenzuoli | Alfredo Vannacci

© 2015 Elsevier GmbH. Abstract In recent years several drugs have been developed deriving from traditional products and current drug research is actively investigating the possible therapeutic roles of many Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicinal remedies. Prominent among those being examined is turmeric. Its main active ingredient is curcumin (C). Curcumin acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinoma, antimicrobial, antiviral, hypoglycemic and wound healer. It has shown therapeutic efficacy in numerous chronic diseases and in some kinds of cancer in vitro and in vivo. Despite much evidence of its efficacy and safety, curcumin has not yet been approved as a therapeutic agent due to its low bioavailability, instability at physiological pH, insolubility in water, slow uptake by cells and rapid metabolism inside cells. The aim of this review is to summarize the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic characteristics of curcumin and to compare the different pharmaceutical strategies employed to increase its bioavailability.

Roy Upton

The efficacy and safety of herbal medicines are dependent upon the standards by which they are made and our knowledge base when prescribing them. Stinging nettles is a staple among Western herbalists and is widely used as a vegetable green, juice, tea, and freeze dried products, predominantly as a blood nourishing tonic and for seasonal rhinitis. The following botanical profile is excerpted from the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia® and Therapeutic Compendium. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.

Elfahmi | Herman J. Woerdenbag | Oliver Kayser

Jamu is the Indonesian traditional herbal medicine that has been practised for many centuries in the Indonesian community to maintain good health and to treat diseases. Although modern (conventional) medicine is becoming increasingly important in Indonesia, jamu is still very popular in rural as well as in urban areas. Based on its traditional use jamu is being developed into a rational form of therapy, by herbal practitioners and in the form of phytopharmaceuticals. Jamu has acquired a potential benefit, both economically and clinically. We surveyed the most frequently used plants in jamu that have also been investigated regarding their constituents and pharmacological effects. The Indonesian government has divided the preparation of medicinal plants into three categories, i.e. jamu, standardized herbal medicines and fitofarmaka (phytomedicines). As the biological activity ascribed to jamu is largely based on empirical data, more research is needed to scientifically prove efficacy and to assure safety. In the further development of jamu, ethical issues such as intellectual property rights, benefit sharing, biodiversity and conservation need to be considered. This paper aims to review the current status of jamu and to give comprehensive views that can be used in its future development for the further improvement of its utility in curing illnesses and maintaining good health. © 2014 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Debasmita Dubey | Rabindra N. Padhy

The scientific basis for the use of the common shrub-weed plant Lantana camara L. was investigated by testing leaf extracts for antibacterial activity. Dried leaf powders were extracted using a hot-solvent extraction method with eight polar to non-polar solvents in succession. Crude extracts were tested for antibacterial activity against three multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-positive bacteria: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Streptococcus pyogenes, and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE); and five MDR extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Gram-negative bacteria: Acinetobacter baumannii, Citrobacter freundii, Proteus mirabilis, Proteus vulgaris and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The MRSA strain was resistant to 16 of 18 antibiotics, while Streptococcus pyogenes and VRE were resistant to 15 of 18 antibiotics. Similarly, A. baumannii and P. aeruginosa were resistant to 14 of 16 antibiotics. It was found that plant extracts with petroleum ether and water had the least antibacterial activity. Leaf extracts with dichloromethane and methanol registered the highest antibacterial activity on all bacterial strains. The minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration of two active leaf extracts, obtained with dichloromethane and methanol were determined. Phytochemical analysis of dichloromethane leaf extracts confirmed the presence of alkaloids, glycosides, terpenoids, saponins, flavonoids, and steroids, but reducing sugars were also absent; and, in the methanolic leaf extract, alkaloids, terpenoids, saponins, flavonoids and steroids were present, but glycosides, reducing sugars and tannins were absent. These findings point to the potential of the plant as a probable source of bioactive compounds and provide a scientific basis for its folklore/ethnomedicinal uses for infectious diseases. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.

Abhijit Dey | Jitendra Nath De

© 2015 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved. Medical herbalism has been popularized due to its reported efficacy, lesser side effects and synergistic interactions against complex syndromes. Herbal medicines are used in neurological disorders in ancient traditional systems in India, China, Japan and Korea. We retrieved and analyzed the research into anti-Huntington's neuroprotective therapeutics from plant sources investigated in neurotoxic models and transgenics in vitro and in vivo studies to provide future references for basic, pre-clinical and clinical research. The extracts, fractions and herbal compounds were summarized from popular scientific search engines and were analyzed according to their source and bioactivity. A total number of 10 plant extracts or fractions belonging to 10 species, 10 genera and 10 families, 24 active compounds and two herbal formulations were found to possess anti-HD activity via modulating a number of key signaling pathways and events implicated to HD pathogenesis. Herbal extracts/fractions and formulations exhibiting positive results in neurotoxic HD models need to be characterized for active components and underlying mechanisms of action. Plants that included Bacopa monnieri, Centella asiatica, Cannabis sativa, Gastrodia elata, Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng and Withania somnifera were cited as the most promising anti-HD candidates, many of which are known CNS-active drugs. Anti-HD compounds included curcumin, epigallocatechin-gallate, ginsenosides, kaempferol, naringin, resveratrol and S-allylcysteine, some of which are well known as neuroprotectants. Further research is still needed to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of the already known as well as the novel herbal extracts and compounds in HD models.

Vivekanandan Kalaiselvan | Archana Saurabh | Ranvir Kumar | Gyanendra Nath Singh

© 2015 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved. Herbal products (HPs) are widely used as pharmaceutical and neutraceutical agents in India. The existing Pharmacovigilance Programme of India (PvPI) encourages reporting of adverse events related to HPs to monitor their safety. To analyze the reported adverse reactions suspected with the use of HPs all reports submitted to the National Coordination Centre (NCC) for PvPI during the period July 2011-December 2013 were assessed on the probability of a causal link between the use of the medication and the reported adverse reaction. An overview was compiled of all reports relating to severe adverse reactions. The NCC-PvPI database contained 39 reports of suspected adverse reactions to HPs in which 16 of them were classified as serious, 12 were non serious and 11 were unassessable. The cases were further categorized by system organ classification (SOC) and it was found that 52.5% were related to skin and appendages disorders. The suspected HPs were Gudmar Ameda, Shankhpushpi, Mahavat Vidhwansan, Dashmool Kwath, Shemar Yesaka, Melas cream, Senna Extract, Aloe Vera, Mustard oil, Digitalis, Garlic, Menthol and Turmeric. Causality assessment as per the WHO scale revealed that five cases were probable/likely, 17 were possible, one was unlikely and the rest of them were unassessable or blank. Healthcare providers and consumers must be educated to ensure the safe use of herbal products. Also rigorous monitoring to ensure the safe use of HPs through PvPI is essential to safeguard public health.

Mutiu Idowu Kazeem | Anofi Omotayo Tom Ashafa

© 2015 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved. Dianthus basuticus is a popular South African medicinal plant used in the management of diabetes mellitus. This study evaluated the antioxidant and antidiabetic potential of D. basuticus using an in-vitro model. The antioxidant activity was determined using iron chelation, 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), hydroxyl and superoxide anion radical scavenging abilities of the aqueous, ethanol and hydro-ethanol extracts of D. basuticus while the antidiabetic potential was assessed by evaluating the inhibitory effects of the extracts on the activities of α-amylase, α-glucosidase, maltase and sucrase. The aqueous extract displayed significantly higher (p < 0.05) DPPH (2.56 μg/mL) and superoxide radical (7.22 μg/mL) scavenging abilities while ethanol (10.56 μg/mL) and hydro-ethanol (6.95 μg/mL) extracts exhibited strongest hydroxyl radical scavenging and iron chelation activities respectively. The ethanol extract displayed significantly higher (p < 0.05) inhibition of α-amylase (34.02 μg/mL) while aqueous extract exhibited strongest inhibition of α-glucosidase (6.59 μg/mL), maltase (31.21 μg/mL) and sucrase (20.98 μg/mL). Hydro-ethanol and aqueous extract inhibited α-amylase and α-glucosidase in a mixed non-competitive and pure non-competitive manner respectively while the aqueous extract competitively inhibited both maltase and sucrase activities. It can be concluded that D. basuticus extracts possessed antioxidant and antidiabetic activities, and one of its mechanism of antidiabetic action is through the inhibition of diabetes-related enzymes.

Namraj Dhami | Akkal Dev Mishra

© 2015 Elsevier GmbH. Abstract Plants and plant products possess therapeutic potential and are duly utilized for the production of traditional as well as modern medicines worldwide. It is evident that the chemical composition of a plant and possible synergy of its constituents impart therapeutic potential to a plant or plant product(s) (HMPs). However, genomic composition, developmental stage and ambient environmental conditions often cause spatio-temporal variation in the chemical profile of plants. Likewise, harvesting techniques, post-harvest processing, storage conditions, widespread use of pesticides, frequent adulteration and microbial contamination also cause a notable variation in chemical profile of medicinal plant material. The occurrence of phytochemical variation in plant material obtained from different geo-biological sources eventually induce discrepancies in its therapeutic profile. Consequently a variation in chemical composition and therapeutic profile of plant material causes routine complications for the validation of therapeutic efficiency and safety of HMPs. With the global upsurge in the usage of HMPs together with the concurrent reports on chemical variation, adulteration and safety concerns there is an urgent need to institute regulatory and diagnostic measures to meet the objectives of WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023. In this regard, DNA based diagnosis and quantitative profiling of chemical markers accompanied by conventional purity measurements should provide a complete set of quality assurance for medicinal plant material and HMPs. The implementation of an integrated approach of DNA barcoding and quantitative metabolomics has therefore become essential to ascertain potency, purity, consistency and safety of medicinal plants as well as HMPs practised in traditional medicine systems such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kampo and other systems of traditional medicines worldwide.

Quan V. Vuong | Sathira Hirun | Tiffany L.K. Chuen | Chloe D. Goldsmith | Michael C. Bowyer | Anita C. Chalmers | Phoebe A. Phillips | Christopher J. Scarlett

Lilly pilly (LP) fruit (Syzygium paniculatum Gaertn.) is widely grown in eastern Australia and has been used as food by indigenous Australians. However, there is limited information on its bioactivity. This study investigated the physicochemical and antioxidant properties of the crude fruit extract, identified its bioactive compounds and also assessed its potential anti-proliferative effect on pancreatic cancer cells. Our data showed that the LP extract was water-soluble and possessed a total phenolic content of 96 mg of gallic acid equivalents (GAE)/g, flavonoid levels of 52 mg catechin equivalents (CAE)/g, proanthocyanidin levels of 29 mg CAE/g. Several phenolic compounds such as gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, catechin and epicatechin were identified in the LP extract with levels of 0.39, 2.35, 0.47 and 2.9 mg/g, respectively. Results from six different antioxidant assays revealed that the LP extract pocessed potent antioxidant and free radical scavenging capacity. Although antioxidant capacity of the extract was lower than that of vitamin E, vitamin C and BHT, it could be significantly improved if the extract was to be further purified. We also showed that the LP extract (200 μg/mL) significantly reduced the viability of MiaPaCa-2 and ASPC-1 pancreatic cancer cells to levels comparable to that of the chemotherapeutic agent gemcitabine. For this reason lilly pilly should be further investigated for its health promoting and potential anti-cancer benefits, particularly for pancreatic cancer. © 2014 Elsevier GmbH.

Namraj Dhami

Natural medicines have been used to enhance human and veterinary health since time immemorial and the success of modern medical science largely depends on drugs originally obtained from natural resources. In the past, traditional medicinal knowledge prevalent in the form of holy books, incantations, folklores, Materia Medica and other historical literature defined the preliminary guidelines for the authorization of plant derived natural medicines. The conventional medical practices adopted for identification and authentication of natural remedies eventually framed the botanico-chemical approach to Pharmacognosy during the early 19th century. However, the last 200 years witnessed a substantial metamorphosis in the principles and practices of Pharmacognosy and it has become an essential domain of modern pharmaceutical science as a multidisciplinary high-tech science of natural medicines. In a contemporary context, the systematic study of natural medicines in terms of purity, potency, consistency and safety have become the major issues in Pharmacognosy. Moreover, most of the present day's drug discoveries have been increasingly adopting traditional medicine based approaches to increase results and to address safety concerns. Thus, Clinical Pharmacognosy, Analytical Pharmacognosy and Industrial Pharmacognosy have been established as the specialized and professional offshoots of Pharmacognosy to meet the contemporary advancements in the field of Pharmacognosy. Furthermore, Molecular Pharmacognosy, Genomic Pharmacognosy and Metabolomic Pharmacognosy have been deemed as the promising approaches of Pharmacognosy research to accommodate future demands in molecular biology, biotechnology and analytical chemistry of natural medicines plus medicinal plants. Nevertheless, interdisciplinary collaborative research programmes are essential for integrated development of traditional medicines and Pharmacognosy research and education. © 2013 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Ram S. Verma | Rajendra C. Padalia | Amit Chauhan

© 2015 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved. The essential oil composition of Salvia officinalis L. (Lamiaceae) grown in northern India was investigated using gas chromatography (GC/FID) and GC-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The essential oil yield was found to vary from 0.22% to 0.43% (whole aerial parts) and 0.15% to 0.60% (individual plant parts) depending on the season of harvesting and plant parts processed, respectively. Altogether, sixty constituents, corresponding to 95.5-99.2% of the oil compositions were identified. Major constituents of the oil were cis-thujone (19.8-42.5%), (E)-caryophyllene (1.2-16.1%), manool (3.6-15.1%), viridiflorol (3.1-12.8%), 1,8-cineole (2.8-13.8%), camphor (1.4-22.1%), borneol (0.9-4.8%), α-humulene (1.5-4.5%), β-pinene (0.7-4.1%), and trans-thujone (1.4-3.7%). Comparative results showed considerable variations in the essential oil composition dependent upon the season of harvesting and plant parts processed. Thujones and manool were highest in the stem oil; camphor was highest in leaf oil, while (E)-caryophyllene and viridiflorol were shown to be highest in the inflorescence oil. The essential oils of the leaf and herb (aerial parts) of S. officinalis matched well with the ISO standard.

Bondada Andallu | Mahalakshmi Shankaran | Rajeshwari Ullagaddi | Shobha Iyer

The leaves of mulberry (Morus indica L.) of Moraceae, possess a number of bioactive compounds that fight against various ailments. In vitro free radical scavenging and in vivo antioxidant potential of mulberry leaves were investigated. Ethanolic extract of mulberry leaves was tested for antioxidant activity in vitro using butylated hydroxy toluene as a positive control. Erythrocyte membrane was used as peroxidation model system in vitro while elderly human volunteers who received mulberry leaf powder (5 g/day) for 60 days served as subjects for in vivo assessment. Mulberry leaf extract scavenged DPPH, nitric oxide and superoxide radicals in a concentration dependent manner and inhibited FeSO 4 -induced lipid peroxidation and hydroperoxides in the erythrocyte membrane model. This was supported by significantly (p < 0.01) decreased lipid peroxidation in plasma (23%) and erythrocytes (49%), significantly (p < 0.01) elevated levels of non enzymatic antioxidants viz. β carotene (116%), vitamin A (69%), vitamin C (23%), vitamin E (55%) and ceruloplasmin (26%); decreased nitrite (43%) in serum and significantly elevated activity of superoxide dismutase (47%) and glutathione-S-transferase (72%) and reduced glutathione (21%, p < 0.05) in erythrocytes from elderly subjects treated with mulberry leaf powder. Mulberry leaves exhibited antioxidant properties postulated to be as a result of the synergistic action of free radical scavenging compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids, moracins and others present in the leaves. © 2013 Elsevier GmbH.

M. Kazemi

© 2015 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved. Achillea millefolium L., Anethum graveolens L., and Carum copticum L. comprise several relevant species that may be used for the food, cosmetic, perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis revealed thymol to be a major component of A. millefolium, A. graveolens and C. copticum, with its contribution to the essential oils (EOs) being 26.47%, 20.07% and 23.14%, respectively. All three EOs exhibited significant antimicrobial activity against all tested bacterial strains, the A. millefolium oil being the most potent. In addition, A. millefolium EO had the highest antioxidant activity in all conducted assays. The A. millefolium EO had significantly greater radical scavenging activity than C. copticum EO and the reference antioxidant Trolox (IC 50 values of 22.11, 26.5 and 28.32 mg/ml, respectively). In addition, a correlation between antioxidant activity and the total phenolic content was found. The A. millefolium EO significantly inhibited nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophages (an in vitro model of inflammation). These results clearly show the antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the plant EOs.

Kathryn Niemeyer | Iris R. Bell | Mary Koithan

Traditional knowledge of Western herbal medicine (WHM) supports experiential approaches to healing that have evolved over time. This is evident in the use of polyherb formulations comprised of crude plant parts, individually tailored to treat the cause of dysfunction and imbalance by addressing the whole person holistically. The challenge for WHM is to integrate science with traditional knowledge that is a foundation of the practice of WHM. The purpose of this paper is to provide a plausible theoretical hypothesis by applying complex systems science to WHM, illustrating how medicinal plants are complex, adaptive, environmentally interactive systems exhibiting synergy and nonlinear healing causality. This paper explores the conceptual congruence between medicinal plants and humans as complex systems coherently coupled through recurrent interaction. Complex systems science provides the theoretical tenets that explain traditional knowledge of medicinal plants while supporting clinical practice and expanding research and documentation of WHM. © 2013 Elsevier GmbH.

Sukru Hayta | Neslihan Tasar | Ugur Cakilcioglu | Osman Gedik

In this study, morphological, morphometrical, karyological and detailed pollen morphology of Ebenus haussknechtii endemic to Turkey was studied for the first time. In the morphologic study, some morphological and morphometrical features of the plant were observed and compared with the published findings in the Flora of Turkey. Karyogram and idiograms of the plant were also prepared. The chromosome number of E. haussknechtii was determined as 2n = 14 and haploid karyotype formula 5 m + 1 sm + 1 M. Metaphase chromosome length ranged from 2.16 to 1.93 μm and the total haploid chromosome length was 17.90 μm. The results of the light microscope investigation of the pollen revealed that the pollen grains were radially symmetrical, isopolar, tricolpate and prolate. Measurement of the reticulum heterobrachate indicated their ornamentation to be reticulate. © 2014 Elsevier GmbH.

Vineeta Pandey | Ram S. Verma | Amit Chauhan | Rakesh Tiwari

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis L.), family Lamiaceae is an important perennial culinary and medicinal plant cultivated in temperate regions of Asia, Europe and America. The hydrodistilled volatile oils derived from leaf, flower and stem of H. officinalis, collected from Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India (Western-Himalaya) were investigated by gas chromatography (GC-FID) and GC-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Essential oil yield varied from 0.22% to 4.4% in the different parts of the plant. Fifty-seven constituents, representing 99.8% of the leaf oil composition; 44 constituents, representing 99.4% of the flower oil composition and 57 constituents, comprising 88.4% of the stem oil composition were identified. Major constituents of the oils were cis-pinocamphone (49.7-57.7%), pinocarvone (5.5-24.9%), β-pinene (5.7-9.3%), 1,8-cineole (2.9-8.0%), β-phellandrene (1.8-3.2%), myrtenyl methyl ether (2.7-3.0%), sabinene (0.8-1.9%), isopimara-9(11),15-diene ( < 0.05-1.9%), myrtenol (1.4-1.7%), myrcene (0.5-1.3%), and trans-pinocamphone ( < 0.05-1.3%). The comparative results clearly indicated that the leaf and stem oil compositions were quite similar in terms of cis-pinocamphone and pinocarvone content. However, the flower oil composition could be differentiated from the leaf and stem oils by the presence of a higher amount of pinocarvone. © 2013 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Mehmet Yavuz Paksoy | Selami Selvi | Ahmet Savran

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